An In-Depth Look At News Coverage Of: Hurricane Katrina


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  • TERRA Sawyer, T., Korman, R., Post, N., Powers, M., Armistead, T., Rubin, D., & Chastin, B. (2004, September 27). Deadly hurricane trio whips up new debate; while some say building codes did their job, others say structural damage needs new responses. Engineering News Record, 253 (12), 10. Magazine About Engineering News-Record
ENR provides the business and technical news needed by anyone who makes a living in or from the construction industry. We cover major projects, technological achievements, business conditions, markets, finance, costs, legislation, government, management, labor, construction methods, equipment and materials. We give readers the weekly news and analysis they need to make decisions in their work, covering all sectors of the industry from buildings to highways to hazardous waste cleanups. We highlight significant events worldwide. Good ideas don't stop at political boundaries nor does the business of construction.

We serve about 78,000 subscribers with an additional pass-along readership of 257,400. Subscribers include contractors, engineers, architects, owners, city, state and federal government officials, producers, suppliers, colleges and libraries. Readers cross the spectrum of job classifications from chief executives to equipment operators and represent all sectors of the construction industry.
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  • An In-Depth Look At News Coverage Of: Hurricane Katrina

    1. 1. Kori Valentine Peter Martin Amy Joseph Arielle Mellen Terra Neukam
    2. 2. PRIOR TO KATRINA Trend #1: Less popular forms of media had stronger media coverage
    3. 3. WHAT WAS EFFECTIVE? <ul><li>Engineering News Record - September 27, 2004 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Predictions of more frequent big storms hitting the U.S. in the next decades could challenge existing construction techniques, building codes and evacuation procedures” </li></ul><ul><li>Hurricane Ivan and the devastation to Florida </li></ul><ul><li>Explores the bigger picture (Louisiana, Mississippi) </li></ul>
    4. 4. WHAT WAS EFFECTIVE? <ul><ul><ul><li>“ The city’s levee system is adequate for 90% to 95% of likely storms. ‘It's the other five to 10% that scare me,’ senior project manager.” (on Louisiana) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Infrastructure improvements needed </li></ul><ul><li>Written by seven prominent journalists </li></ul><ul><ul><li>i.e. Tom Sawyer, Richard Korman… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Credibility </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Objective information </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Variety of sources: Engineers, city officials, etc. </li></ul>
    5. 5. WHAT WAS INEFFECTIVE? <ul><li>HURRICANE ANDREW ; Down to the Basics: Hunting For Food, Water and Shelter </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The New York Times – August 26, 1992 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Focus on Miami’s response only </li></ul><ul><li>Does not explore the bigger picture </li></ul>
    6. 6. DURING KATRINA Trend #2: Coverage from mainstream media was vague immediately before and after Hurricane Katrina first hit; It seemed as if the mainstream media made light of the situation. <ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reporters were not knowledgeable enough </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Miscommunications </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. WHAT WAS INEFFECTIVE? <ul><li>The Times Picayune Issues Hurricane Watch - August 27, 2005 </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Southeast Louisiana certainly has a good chance of landfall or at least feeling the effects of Katrina…There could be some topping of levees” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ The storm moved west at about 7 mph and was expected to take a gradual turn west-northwest through the early afternoon. Landfall is expected early Monday.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>CNN News Coverage </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Focuses on the problems, not how people can help </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Stories of individuals who cannot communicate with outside world </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No mention of programs that have been set up to aid these people </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 8. INEFFECTIVE <ul><li>CNN Weather Report - August 29, 2005 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Instilling panic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Making light of the situation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>&quot;I don't want to alarm anyone that New Orleans is filling up like a bowl.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The New York Times - August 31, 2005 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Treaster, J. & Kleinfield, N. (2005). New Orleans is inundated as 2 levees fail; much of gulf coast is crippled; toll rises. The New York Times, pp . 1A . </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Incorrect source </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Michael Brown (FEMA) vs. David Vitter (LA Senator) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    9. 9. WHAT WAS EFFECTIVE? <ul><li>NPR- August 28, 2005 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Joe Suhayda: Potential to be “flooding up until midpoint of second story building in the French Quarter” because New Orleans is below sea level </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why is this effective? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Expert vs. citizen was on-site reporting </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Brings in outside knowledge </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Levees are only strong enough to withhold a Category 3 storm and this has become a Category 5” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Listener realizes what is actually going </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No sugarcoating details </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Clear that this is not an average storm </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    10. 10. DURING KATRINA Trend #3: It isn’t until the event actually happens that it becomes news; nobody knows until it is too late. <ul><li>Mainstream media started to accurately report on Katrina once it had already hit (August 30 th ) </li></ul>
    11. 11. WHAT WAS EFFECTIVE <ul><li>City a Woeful Scene, The Times Picayune - August 30, 2005 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reaches out to help every citizen (locally AND nationally) understand what has happened and the current situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Why levees failed to protect </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Extent of the damage </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Looting problem and resulting danger </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Authority response (ex: what are police officers doing to help) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    12. 12. WHAT WAS EFFECTIVE? <ul><li>New Orleans is Now Off Limits; Pentagon Joins in Relief Effort, The New York Times - August 31, 2005 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Detailed overview of situation in New Orleans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why damage is so bad </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Steps national government has taken </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. After the Crisis <ul><li>Trend #4: Most news is effective and extremely informative in the time following the crisis. </li></ul>
    14. 14. AFTER THE CRISIS <ul><li>Political Storm Brewing Over Katrina Disaster, The Times Picayune - Septemberm 3, 2005 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Government and FEMA admit they were unprepared </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Answers to “What went wrong?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gives answers that the entire nation needs to know </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. WHAT WAS EFFECTIVE? <ul><li>News sources caught onto effective reporting trends = Effective Reporting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What happened? How did it all happen? What went wrong? What is currently happening? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Main topics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Government response </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Relief efforts </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Prevention measures for future </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How to help </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Articles more narrowly focused </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Detail on specific topic vs. overview of situation </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ex: Local papers focused on means of survival—where to get food, numbers to call </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    16. 16. WHAT WAS INEFFECTIVE? <ul><li>Majority effective, but still some examples of ineffective </li></ul><ul><li>Hurricane Dealt Blow to Popularity of Katrina as Baby Name , The New York Times, May 13, 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Katie Couric News Clip </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is this credible? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Based on her opinions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comments from unknown sources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ This source said…” </li></ul></ul></ul>
    17. 17. RECAP <ul><li>Prior to Katrina </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-mainstream sources (i.e. NPR, Engineering and Contracting News) provided more useful information that mainstream media never focused on </li></ul></ul><ul><li>During Katrina </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mainstream media started to accurately report on Katrina once it had already hit (August 30 th ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It isn’t until an event actually happens that it becomes news </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>After Katrina </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most news seemed to be effective and informative </li></ul></ul>